Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I got to visit my friend George yesterday. George is now officially a collector of my work, owning 2 of my paintings. George sneaked in at the last moment and snagged my John Wayne in Acrylic the other day. George is a painter, too, and he and I became acquainted in 2007 because George had found my work on eBay, looked me up and even sent me a painting of myself from a photo on a blog entry about a day I went plein air painting and my painting blew off the easel landing 'jelly side down.'

George is one of the kindest men I have met, and in many ways his gentleness and careful choice of words, easy laughter and substantial vocabulary remind me of my own father who passed away in 2005. I would venture that If it weren't for his knack for story telling, and his myriad stories from his career, you'd probably never guess he spent a good portion of his life as a Special Agent for NCIS (NCISA Who's Who Story: scroll halfway down).

I delivered the painting to him and he smiled, thanked me, shook my hand and set it down on his coffee table. I had to admit to George that I could not imagine why he wanted another painting. Far from being self-effacing with that question, I was referencing George's enormous collection of paintings, the vast majority of which are his own. He long ago ran out of wall-space in his four bedroom home, and both sides of his garage are modeified with shelves loaded with paintings, categorized and alphabetized. It's like a library or vinyl album collection, only it's all paintings on panels or canvas, sometimes still in frames, but mostly loose.

As we drank a glass of wine together, we talked about art, painting, his career, his fun memories of his duties an a special agent, the art of getting a confession (for much of his career he obtained more confessions from criminals than anyone else around using psychology, relationship-building and a polygraph machine -- much more often than not, the polygraph was unnecessary), and of course we talked about Pearl.

He's done between 2– and 300 paintings of his late wife Pearl among the hundreds if not thousands of paintings he's done. Pearl was the love of his life and he is never at a loss for words describing the beauty and gentleness of the woman who preserved his heart in a career that could have stripped him of it.

"I've never known a more selfless person in my whole life," he sighs.

Sadly, cancer took her life 7 years ago, and George was left with a home full of memories of her and their children together -- and his box of paints. He visits her grave site a couple of times a week, and talks to her, hoping she's around somewhere to hear.

I once heard that a "real" artist is one who will spend days, weeks or months on a creative pursuit and never care if anyone ever sees the work. This is largely true of George. The vast majority of his oil paintings are in deep stacks along the walls in his studio, the garage, on the piano, and so on. He mostly does portraits and figures, and if it were not for a visit to his home, or catching his fancy as a friend to whom he'd like to give an original portrait, you'd never know otherwise that he paints. He's doesn't try to sell them, but for some commissions he talks about. Many people who have been blessed to know him have received a portrait from him as a gift.

Painting is what he loves to do to pass the slow-moving time and remember his friends, and especially his favorite model of all time, Pearl.


Maryby David R. Darrow
14" x 11" (35.6cm x 27.9cm)
Oil on Canvas Panel

Collection of Jose Arce
Jacksonville, IL – USA

About This Painting

Mary was a stranger to me the day I asked her if I could paint her portrait. I was struck by her wonderful multi-braided hair and dark, dark skin.

"Excuse me..." I said, interrupting her thoughts. I was going to ask her if I might possibly use her as a head model for study.

She turned and smiled a beyond-radiant smile. We talked for a bit and I explained what I do and that I'd like to paint her. I also mentioned I was being awarded a First Place at a local gallery's juried show and invited her to the reception.

She showed up with two of her nieces, who were equally beautiful, and whom I eventually painted, too.

All three young women are originally from Kenya, and Mary is aunt to the other two. They are named Dama and Dama – they are each the first daughter in their respective families and, following tradition, are named after their maternal grandmother who is, of course, Dama.  ◙

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Presenceby David R. Darrow
11" x 14" (27.9cm x 35.6cm)
Oil on Belgian Linen Panel

Collection of Delilah Smith
Oldsmar, FL – USA

About This Painting

"She's a ballet dancer," my then-wife suddenly pointed out.

My wife – who has been in dance from childhood through most of her adult life – was out with me for breakfast one sunny Sunday morning at the harbor in Oceanside, CA. Erika was walking nearby with her mother.

From a short distance I was caught by something about her face. I haven't been around dance enough to pick up what my wife did, but she told me she just knew it "because of the way she carries herself."

I set down my fork and got up. "Let's go find out if she is. I'd like to paint her anyway." She has a long neck, lean frame, muscular arms and a gentle but focused, pretty face. At that moment, her hair was pulled back tight and put up in a bun.

Erika, 14 at the time, and her mother were delightful people to talk to and verified that Erika was indeed a dancer – a serious dancer, traveling the world with well-known companies. They told us that they were on vacation from their hometown in Florida and, fortunately for me, agreed to come by my studio the next day.

There is something that sets one dancer out from the rest, even though they may have similar training, athletic ability, grace and strength. What set her apart was what my wife saw, and what I wanted to capture.

Presence.  ◙

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